Question: English & Literature

What are the motifs in The Oresteia by Aeschylus?
In English & Literature | Asked by bookragstutor
Asked from the The Oresteia study pack
Answers

There are multiple motifs, or recurrent items within Aeschylus' The Oresteia. I am using Robert Fagles' translation and line numbers.

  1. Blood --
    > Agamemnon: reference to the Trojan War (124, 810-815); sacrifice to Artemis (201, 211); the red stream (902); blood of Agamemnon (1410-1415)
    > The Libation Bearers: reference to the chthonian (50, 66); Apollo’s reminder of “father’s blood” (288); declaration of lex talionis (319-320, 394-395); the Chorus’ rage and fury (417); Clytaemnestra's dream (520); the climax of Orestes’ action: (1007)
    > The Eumenides: reference to Orestes’ blood-red hands (44); blood mentioned as a familial tie (92, 210); blood as evidence of guilt (165, 192); blood as a curse (362), declaration of lex talionis (464); blood as a crime (730)
  2. Net/yoke --
    > Agamemnon: the robes surrounding Iphigenia (234); yoke (1235, 1670-1672); coiling (1400-1405); black widow’s web (1520); nets of Justice (1643)
    > The Libation Bearers: the “all-embracing” net (479); comes full circle (492-494); chains (950-954, 960-964); snare (990-1000)
    > The Eumenides: Orestes’ plea to Athena (298-299); Erinyes’ chains of song (306); shackles (642); Zeus can set or break chains (648, 653)
  3. Animal imagery – plenty of it everywhere, as it enhances the speaker’s description
  4. Vipers, snakes (ties into #2 and #3)
    > Agamemnon: (1240-1244); (1403-1405)
    > The Libation Bearers: (250-252); dream (514); interpretation of dream (530-537); the two serpents (1047); women look like serpents to Orestes (1047-1050)
    > The Eumenides: flying viper = arrow (178) 
  5. Colors (relates to #1)
    > Agamemnon:  crimson tapestries (900-905), saffron robes (237)
    > The Libation Bearers: black clothes of the slave women (11-14);
    > The Eumenides: white fleece = purity (47); black clothes of Furies / Erinyes (55); pious white robes = purity (351) 
  6. Charioteer
    > Agamemnon: (635-640); (1070)
    > The Libation Bearers: (642); (785-790); (1018-1022)
    > The Eumenides: (156-157); (160-161)
Hope this helps.
SD-28
Carthage | 633 days ago